Commuting takes a toll on us and our Shih Tzu

Biggie B., my 13-year-old Shih Tzu, had an accident. G. told me about it when I called last night from North Carolina.

Biggie B. lives mostly with G. these days because I don’t own a car, and both Metra-North and Amtrak have banned dogs from their trains. You can’t even take them on short trips in carriers. Personally, I think that if the state and federal governments really wanted to reduce our reliance on oil and encourage use of mass transportation, they would change these policies. As it is, Biggie B. is forced to live with G. so that I can take the train to Wisconsin on my days off. Then, on the weekend, G. drives himself and Biggie B. to Chicago. If Biggie B. could go on the train, I would take him back and forth with me, increasing  his happiness and mine, and G. would take the train down on weekends, reducing his use of gas and driving-related stress and increasing his happiness. Do you hear this Metra-North and Amtrak? You are making two people and a small, elderly dog unhappy.

But anyway, back to the current crisis. Biggie B. has a small, shag cotton rug in G.’s living room that he sleeps on. G. came home from work at lunch yesterday and discovered Biggie B. had peed on the rug. G. said it was a lot of pee, not just a small tinkle.

This worries me because it’s the third accident Biggie B. has had in the past couple of months. The first one was in my apartment. He peed on a small, shag rug that’s identical to the one at G.’s house. (Biggie B. loves those rugs. He digs on them and rolls and grunts and generally is happy as a clam. They’re better than any toy I ever gave him.)

But again, back to the story: Biggie B. had an accident on his rug in my apartment one morning after I went to work and before G. woke up to take him out. Then, a couple of weeks later, he peed on a towel during a thunderstorm, but I think that’s a little different because he’s terrified of storms. Now, he’s had a third accident _ the second one in circumstances that weren’t terrifying.

The vet has told me that Biggie B. shows signs of early kidney disease. I think he might be starting to have accidents because he can’t control his bladder as well as he used to. I feel bad about this because Biggie B. was easily housebroken and he’s only had accidents in the past when he was sick. I am sure that he doesn’t mean to pee in the house now, and it’s probably upsetting for him when it happens and G. gets angry.

I also feel guilty because G. is taking care of my dog _ my older dog _ and I know that’s hard on him. He has to arrange his schedule to walk Biggie B. or at least let him out a certain intervals, and when there are thunderstorms, he gets no sleep because Biggie B. is terrified and shakes and pants and paces. And now Biggie B. is having accidents in G.’s house.

G. said he tossed Biggie B.’s rug outside, and his plan was to just let it rain on it and get it clean that way. I told him that would only make things worse because the rug would get damp, but not really be washed, and then it would likely get moldy. I asked him if he could take the rug to a Laundromat and wash it.

“Me?” he asked, and I could tell by the tone of his voice that he was truly stunned that I had asked this of him.

And here’s where Biggie B.’s pee becomes not just a sad sign of aging but a real problem. G. has no washer or dryer at his house. So, in order to clean the rug, I’d either need to take it to a Laundromat, which I can’t do because I don’t have a car, or it would have to be brought to my place in Chicago for me to wash, and that wouldn’t be possible for at least a week and a half since I won’t be in Wisconsin until then. And that’s if I wanted to carry the peed-on rug back on the train. Otherwise, I’d have to wait for G. to bring in down in his truck, which would be in about two weeks.

Right now, you are probably wondering: How does G. do his laundry? The answer is: He doesn’t. His mother does it for him at her house. But she told me we can’t put anything that belongs to the dog in her washer because she doesn’t want dog hair in it. I figure it’s her right to refuse because it’s her washer.

G. actually owns a washer and dryer. It’s in his basement. I bought it last year from a neighbor who was moving, but he hasn’t hooked it up because his house doesn’t have the required plumbing. He was going to put that in, but then he found out he needed a municipal permit that only a licensed plumber can pull. G. doesn’t want to pay the $2,300 to $2,800 a licensed plumber would charge, so no work has been done.

In the meantime, I’ve been carting my laundry, towels, sheets and so on back and forth from Chicago for a year. I’ve started to become bitter about it, and not having an immediate and convenient way to wash Biggie B.’s rug makes me even more irritated.

And so here I am at the crossroads. What do I do? Do I pay for a plumber to install the pipes and drain needed to hook up the washer and dryer? Do I try to convince G. to pay for it? If he refuses, what do I do then?

I suppose the obvious answer is that I could keep Biggie B. and his rug and his mess at my place in Chicago, but that would mean that I wouldn’t be able to go to Wisconsin to see G., and so we would only see each other on the one or two nights when he could come to Chicago. I don’t think that would be enough. We wouldn’t have much time together, and we wouldn’t be able to garden or dance the way we do now. So although that seems like the obvious answer, it’s not a solution or at least a solution I can accept.

I also think that if I try to convince G. to hire a plumber to install the washer and dryer, which he has no personal need for, it will lead to time-consuming arguments that won’t result in any action but will increase my frustration. And so, perhaps I should just pay to hire a plumber since I’m the one who really wants the washer installed. Maybe $2,500 isn’t too much to pay to keep the peace.

I’m not sure yet, especially since G. and I haven’t discussed the issue in this much depth yet. It didn’t seem like a crisis before Biggie B. had an accident, but now it does.

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One response to “Commuting takes a toll on us and our Shih Tzu

  1. Oh – poor Biggie B! I think the question is do you think the $2,500 is a worthwhile investment in your relationship with G because you feel you’ll spend the rest of your life with him – and if the answer is an easy “yes” for you, hire the plumber. That’s my two cents worth – of course, I’ve always wondered why people say, “A penny for your thoughts” but when we supply our thoughts, we always feel they’re worth twice that amount. Regardless of whether my advice is worth one or two cents, I hope you follow your heart. Be well. Be happy. And please give Biggie B a huge hug for me. Bee

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